The Planning Center DC & E (Design, Community and Environment), gave a presentation before the General Plan Update Steering Committee Tuesday night giving guidance and pointing out the State’s expectations as they complete the daunting, complex process of updating the General Plan.
The committee is expected to put its finishing touches on the General Plan during an all-day meeting on June 3.
The Planning Center DC & E have been successful in helping other cities such as Ontario streamline their General Plans into a user-friendly accessible document online. They also alert committees to any recent legislation at the state level that may require them to take a second look at the General Plan in place if adjustments need to be made.
Some of the newer legislation includes the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1900 levels and reduction of passenger vehicle emissions by 2020. Other environmental impacts the committee must consider are: reduction of water consumption, waste reduction, increase of carbon dioxide consuming landscape, open space and resource conservation and reduction of risk of wind fire, flooding and other climate change impacts.
The committee must also take into account the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). CEQA is in place to make sure the environmental impact of land use projects is fully disclosed to the public. This includes seismic safety, hazardous waste usage, natural habitat conservation, noise pollution and agricultural effects.
In addition to The Planning Center’s presentation, Committee Member Teryl Willis handed out a packet on the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), an educational organization that seeks to preserve the natural night skies worldwide. They site scientific studies that link “light pollution” to hazards to both wildlife and humans. High levels of glare reduce visibility when driving or walking and drive away mammals, birds and some amphibians, which depend on darkness, from their natural environments. The Committee plans on discussing this matter further and looking toward alternative lighting options for the city to consider.
The committee’s next step will be to review the Land Use Plan including environmental review, build out calculations, policy development and reviews of mapping. The committee is looking for volunteers to assist with projects. Call (626) 355-7138, or e-mail GeneralPlan@CityofSierraMadre.com for more information.